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Changing the "Statistics & Mathematics" entry in the "Foundations" section[]

I know there may be some pressure to follow PsychINFO and the APA for the headings here, but I still think this section could be vastly improved, particularly in the areas I am familiar with, if we made some changes. This idea came about when I thought about how the entry Statistics & mathematics and its structure that one finds when one clicks on the link could be improved. Let me explain in a bit more detail:

  1. It seems useful to me when teaching students to try to point out the differences between the areas of study within psychology and the methods of study that are used to investigate those areas.
    1. Obviously, these two categories are not completely independent, so it may not be possible to list all possible areas of study as, say, a row in some factorial design, and all the methods as a column in that factorial design.
    2. But I still think there is merit in trying to make clear this distinction in the way the component parts of psychology are displayed and described.
    3. If we did do this, some interesting juxtapositions might more easily appear: a somewhat deeper and more integrated view of the discipline and approaches it takes can then more easily emerge and be played upon to aid research, teaching, and understanding by students. Leastways, when I have made some attenpts to do thsi with students, it seems to have made some things a bit more easy for them.
    4. Of course, The Psychology Wiki isn't primarily or just a resource for students, but I still think it would make for a a clearer view of the discipline if we tried to clean up the top-level structure, going some way along these kinds of lines.
  2. In the case of the Statistics & mathematics entry, much would be gained by making a clearer distinction between "areas" of study and "methods" of study, and a centralised resource for "Research Methods" (what I want to replace "Statistics & mathematics" with) can do this.
  3. I would like to rename Statistics & mathematics to Research Methods.
    1. By so doing, it becomes very easy to have a major section called Qualitative approaches (as opposed to Quantitative approaches) included and acknowleged in its own right as a major Research Method.
    2. Statistics could then have a link given in the same list or menu in which "Qualitative approaches" appears, because, like it or not, some qualitative research also makes use of statistical methods to recognise patterns, etc in the information its research collects.
    3. There would be a menu item saying "Quantitative approaches", and in it would be placed information about "Measurement" (I prefer to use the term "measurement models" for this, but current use within non-Mathematical Psychology is making this term unduly restricted, and unhelpfully too, I think. But perhaps we must deal with what we find in use here, I think.) So information about interval and ratio levels of measurement would be placed here. It would also give an opportunity to include the literally 'masses' of information from modern Mathematical Psychology about psychological measurement that are almost completely unknown by most psychologists (for example, the work of Joel Michel, and information in the spirit of Krantz, Luce, and Tversky's 3 volume work "Foundations of Measurement" - an area of applied mathematics advanced in some considerable way by Mathematical Psychologists and some Economists).
    4. It would also allow the point to be made that, whereas quantitative approaches have measurement and measurement models, qualitative approaches have classification and categorization and classification and categorization models. Furthermore, either approach can be mathematical or not in its flavour or style, as seems best suited to meet the needs of the research and the researchers.
    5. "Classical" research methods that can also be either qualitative or quantitative can be added at this level, with cross-references to appropriate approaches - I am thinking of case-studies and (other) forms of naturalistic observation here.
    6. Similarly "True Experiments, Quasi Experiments and Correlational Studies" can go in at this level too, since it is quite possible, though little appreciated, that one can have both quantitative and qualitative examples of these, depending upon the kind of control present in the piece of research and whether observations gathered are treated in a way to yield measures (quantitative) or categories (qualitative). Of course, it is still necessary to have a separate category for Qualitative approaches, since many researchers using these approaches eschew the kinds of statistical analyses that might be used, or else make use of qualitative approaches that do not readily or easily admit that kind of analysis at all.
    7. That will do for now, I think. However, you may well have now guessed that these kinds of issues were those that preoccupied me in my later years of employment, and, in fact, are actively-pursued areas of theoretical research for me still.
    8. Finally, I really think, if nothing else is allowed, the name change should be implemented - it would allow other areas to be accessed much more easily.

 DDS  talk 17:05, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Mostly Zen Says[]

Hi David,

It really sounds like you know what you are talking about here. Lifeartist and I have done very little with the Index structure since he envisaged the idea of following PsychINFO headings, as we have been really busy building the basics of the site and attracting contributors. I am inclined to say, go ahead and make the changes. I will help you with all the re-structuring and categories etc...

Its probably best to let Lifeartist reply with his thoughts to, as its a major change to our structure though.

Using the Categories on this site is very useful way to build indexes for our work. We could invent new categories to account for the changes you suggest, such as Category:Mathematical Psychology. This would automatically index all articles with that Category Tag into a Mathematical Psychology Index. Articles with 2 or more categories could automatically overlap one another, which will help in our goal of integrating Psychology as a science.

Have a look at these Venn Diagrams i used recently in a discussion with Jaywin at his Talk Page about structuring the site and the indexing:


Have a look at this Diagram:

The Psychology Wiki can account for the overlap between different fields of knowledge in a way that is impossible in a standard text book model of learning.

Many different fields in Psychology overlap considerably in their content. In trying to break these areas of content down into discrete fields, psychology has become fragmented.

  • The nature of a textbook structure is such that this is necessary to present the information clearly.
  • The nature of an interlinked online resource is such that the overlap can be accounted for in multiple categories. * Articles which belong in two or more categories can be archived as such, and hence found by researchers in discrete specialisms.

I'm working on another too... Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk) 15:03, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Heres the diagram idea, but for Psychology as a whole. Note how its similar to the tree of knowledge, only not hierarchical. Henriques is correct though, I just think that his diagram does not make it clear though how things like the social environment impact on the physical one (all the building, farming and pollution causing extinction & climate change for example). I'm sure he has taken that into account, perhaps it is a mistake to interpret the cones diagram in that manner.

Anyway, here is the other diagram (bottom left)

All the fields of Psychology overlap considerably. They are in fact all part of the study of human mind & behaviour.

  • Learning psychology, it was necessary to split the discipline into discrete areas, in order to analyse it properly, and to reduce the effect of confounding external influences.
  • However, in doing so, we have lost sight of the fact that it is in fact one unified field, the study of human mind and behaviour.
  • Categorisation in a new format, the Psychology Wiki, should allow us to account for the overlap between presently seperate fields and hence integrate the knowledge.
  • Don't take this diagram too literally, its just to illustrate the point. In reality these fields are of varying sizes and overlap in multiple dimensions, which are impossible to diagramize. The Psychology Wiki's categories should allow us to capture all the information in its proper fields though.

Right! enough of me practicing articles on your user talk, let me know what you think. This could be a major 'selling point' of the Psychology Wiki idea :)

Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk) 15:45, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

Again this conversation is just what the wiki is about[]

I am all for supporting David in working up the Research methods area as he suggests. The main issue is that we upgrade the content and provide full coverage of the field. Its necessary that the overall structure is comprehensible to our peers and that the complexity of the field and the underlying relationships between areas is captured by the category system. I would also add an entry point to a course structure that undergraduates could follow or post-grads for a refresher. I am working on the idea of a surface structure carried by the chapter headings for newbies and early undergraduates with a deeper structure that more experienced users can use to explore more deeply. The basic idea of nested books means that people naturally get lead into more detail, and have a structure that helps orientate them, while the category and template structures tie the material together across boundaries in multiple complex ways. I have beeen very struck with discussions I've had with a colleague in the computing department Wolverhampton. He's just done a study which indicates how different MBTI types use the multiple access methods built into windows in characteristic ways. As psychologists we would perhaps predict that different people prefer different routes to the material and this can be an important advantage we would have over either the flat, encyclopedic structure of Wikipedia or the limited hierarchical structure of wikiversity books.Lifeartist 20:32, 25 July 2006 (UTC)


So, it looks to me as though our conclusions are:

1) We adopt Davids changes - Mostly Zen can help David with the structural changes, but David(DDS) will need to explain exactly what he wants content wise if he needs Zen's help.

2) We continue with the site index/skeleton index/nested chapter headings as per Lifeartist ... BUT

3) We really, really should BUILD those indexes using the Categories where-ever possible.

It is entirely possible to build the Index pages up using categories and Still keep the chapter headings, leading to more specialised content further down, as Lifeartist has intended.

If this sounds OK, we can get cracking

Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk) 20:48, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

Initial Changes?[]

Many thanks for the comments. I particularly like the idea of the categories, as it allows multiples viewpoints to exist about how the material can be structured. The idea (I have read in another section as well) about this site being, amongst other things, a massive online textbook is a good one too, and one that fits in more with my own ideas about how access to knowledge should be as free of charge as possible.

As a first step, the "Statistics & mathematics" in the Foundations entry should be immediately changed to "Research Methods" If this is all right, I'll do it myself, and start to add subsections and restructure the material within that section, so long as you are all happy for me to do so. With respect to the Categories, I'll have a think about relevant entries and make some suggestions. I think I may have to have some help in implementing them. Many thanks.  DDS  talk  (David) 11:24, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Any help you need changing the structure, I will give you. You've got some excellent ideas so please feel free to go ahead and implement the changes, now that we've discussed them. I'm just getting some lunch but will be online this afternoon. Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk) 11:58, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for the comments and help. I've implemented the name-change now. I think my next move will be to put in place a new structure. This may well make the existing material a bit messy. Once that is in place, existing material can be moved within the structure, and new material written to fill it out. Once that is underway, there will be a need to start to implement Categories for this.  DDS  talk  (David) 13:22, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Maths thesaurus

Thanks for the thesaurus of mathematical concepts. It will be quite useful in the future, I think. I've made a start on the new structure within the Research methods section. Having reflected more on what Lifeartist wrote, concerning surface structures and deeper structures, possibly within a skeleton of some kind of course on (in this case) research methods, I wonder how people would view the research methods section as being orientated around a "general purpose course" with links off it to develop ideas further? People could dip in where they wanted, explore areas further as desired, and it does fit with my initial suggestions and works well with the categories ideas. It also helps people deal with the complexity of the field as well. I can give a quick "mock up" of what I'm thinking about if people want to see more.  DDS  talk  (David) 15:02, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
To help with structuring for the Research methods, shall I add a Research Methods link to all of our templates/browsebar etc..? That way we can keep the PsychInfo categories and just add Research methods as David has intended? It'll make a little bit of overlap, but then Psychology is like that, so it shouldn't matter...
Let me know if you guys want that and I'll get it sorted this afternoon. Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk) 15:12, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
I think this is a good idea.  DDS  talk  (David) 15:16, 26 July 2006 (UTC)
This is now done. Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk) 19:38, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Thinking about routes to the content[]

People will be able to approach the material on the wiki through a number of routes, each with its own strength and weaknesses. There is no one perfect method and all methods struggle with the issue that categorisation and naming, includes as well as excludes. Add to the pros and cons so we get a full picture.

  • Nested book structure
    • Advantages: Intuitive and people can be lead to a destination
    • Disadvantages:Page names become tortuous. It isnt always clear what choice to make
  • Categories
    • Advantages:Multiple labeling of pages possible, flexibility
    • Disadvantages: Hard to keep category names consistent and accurately applied. Hard to know what categories to use unless you know the area and/or the wiki well. See next section
      • I'd add that although this is a disadvantage, its no harder than the process of naming pages according to a rigid tree. I think we should USE the categories to build our Index for us, allowing for overlap which will occur anyway. Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk) 17:11, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Templates eg see template:memory

    • Advantages:These are visually appealing and inviting to use and seem useful for tying pages across multiple areas in a coherent way. Good for combining pages into courses etc
    • Disadvantages:Are limited in the number of headings you can have
  • Search of page titles
    • Advantages: Not too big a list
    • Disadvantages: May miss some relevant pages

  • Search of page contents
    • Advantages:Usually picks up every occurence of keyword so is very inclusive
    • Disadvantages: Generates very long lists as size of wiki increases. Can become slow with a lots of traffic if there are a lot of pages to search. Some of the pages returned may well not be relevant. Time consuming to construct clear complex queries when we have the facilities
  • Random page
    • Advantages: Fun to use for the gamblers amongst us.
    • Disadvantages: er its random

Thinking about categories[]

I am glad we are going ahead with the multiple access approach. Ive been thinking about the categories issue, trying to resolve the difficulties I have had as I found them quite hard to use in practice.

  • We need to build pages on Templates being used & How to use them - Zen
  • We need to build pages on Categories being used & How to use them - Zen

Firstly it is sometimes hard to decide what to call the category. Then once I had decided it was difficult to remember the precise form I had used from session to session. Then, when in doubt, it was difficult to check what was in fact the right form. Was it 'service user page' or 'service users' page' or 'service user pages' etc.

  • This is why, whenever we make a new page like this, we need to link it to the relevant navigation pages from the community portal. I can never remember exactly what pages are called. - Zen

I tried to check on our category listing but it starts off with a lot of irrelevant WP categories and I couldnt find an easy way to prune the list to make it usable.

  • We need to be more careful copying WP pages, so that we copy over less crud, along with the useful stuff. We need to go through our pages cleaning them and removing dead categories as well as dead links/info. - Zen

I then had the idea of developing a thesaurus of terms for each section. The obvious list to use is PsychINFO but the charge for it and it is strictly copyrighted. Looking on the web there are other lists we could us to build our own thesaurii (if thats the plural), hence the link for David. This would help to standardise the list of categories, at the expense of some flexibility, and give people somewhere to look if they were unsure which category to use, although it is all a bit clunky.

We could have categories of categories - perhaps Jaywin could help us out as he seems to know the most about the mechanics of using the category system.

  • I think Jaywins Idea of making categories of categories is fine. We can make them according to the PsychInfo sections (on the navigation templates) AND the new Research Methods section. Of course, some categories will belong in more than one section, but this is the beauty of the Wiki category system, the overlap doesnt matter! :) - Zen

Despite the problems they are extremely useful when you have them on an article and they lead to appropriate information.

Ideas by Lifeartist? Comments by Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk)

Templates/Navigation bars all link to Research Methods[]

All of the template Navigation bars are changed to link to Research Methods now Mostly Zen Baby tao.jpg (talk)